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Microplastics Invading Atlantic Seaweed

August 22, 2019

Greenpeace scientists studying plastic pollution and turtle habitats in the Sargasso Sea of the Atlantic Ocean have found extreme concentrations of microplastic pollution in the sargassum, floating seaweed that serves as protection for hundreds of marine species, CNN reports. The scientists say this pollution originates from single-use plastic bottles and plastic packaging.

The Sargasso Sea, which is constantly changing with the currents, is an oval-shaped body of water around 1,000 miles wide and 3,000 miles long. Although few humans ever come to the area, a growing collection of trash is accumulating in the water from countries that border the Atlantic, including the west coast of Africa and the east coast of the United States. Embedded within the sargassum, divers found many pieces of trash, from shampoo bottles and fishing gear to thin plastic bags. While in the water, divers found they were surrounded by tiny glittering pieces of microplastic.

Although the scientists are still reviewing their findings, in one sample of sargassum they found almost 1,300 fragments of microplastic, which is higher than the levels found last year in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

To protect the environment, some countries are setting goals to eliminate the use of single use plastics. Waste-stream management is a priority for facilities concerned with reducing waste generation and improving repurposing and recycling.

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